On Thursday, March 10th, The Ireland Funds New York Young Leaders hosted their signature event, The St. Patrick’s Celebration.
Over 600 Young Leaders and supporters of The American Ireland Fund joined the party at Espace in midtown west to enjoy a night of fun, friends and fundraising for Irish charities.
The evening began with a VIP cocktail reception hosted by the event Co-Chairs and the committee.
As guests arrived they were greeted with a signature cocktail created by presenting sponsor Jameson as well as the great sounds of Vonnie Quinn on the fiddle and Sean Maloney playing traditional Irish tunes on the guitar.
The evening’s Honorees Joel McHale along with Justin and Lauran Tuck soon arrived for photos and press interviews.
As the reception room began to fill up, the doors to the main room were open and the guests were greeted by the second musical act, The Dane Right Band and a complimentary cigar roller provided by BMW.
While guests perused the silent auction and the BMWs in the center of the room, the food stations were opened and the Jameson Irish Whiskey bar opened and added to the festivities.
Later on in the evening, The American Ireland Fund 40th anniversary video played and National Director of The Young Leaders Pat Tully took to the stage to officially welcome the guests to the 11th Annual St. Patrick’s Celebration.
Pat gave a brief overview of the 40 years of The Ireland Funds and spoke about the success of the recently completed Promising Ireland Campaign to assist Irish charities. He then introduced Shane Cahill, Vice Consul General of Ireland in New York. Shane spoke about the importance of the work The Ireland Funds do to bring communities together across the island of Ireland.
Following Shane’s comments, event Co-Chair Brendan Kenny gave a warm introduction to the 2016 Dylan Smith Community Service Award honorees, Justin and Lauran Tuck, while recognizing previous honorees in the room, The Tevlin Family.
Justin recently completed an 11 year NFL career highlighted by 2 Super Bowl titles with the New York Giants. He and Lauran created a foundation, Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for literacy (which stands for Read Understand Succeed and Hope). The Tuck’s created this organization to raise money and literacy awareness for underserved children to help combat summer learning loss and to encourage a love of reading. Their impact of their work with children has been seen from Justin’s home state of Alabama to California to New York City.
Lauran was presented with a special bouquet of flowers provided by décor sponsor, B Floral. She then spoke about the impact of their foundation’s work and then dedicated the award to her mother, who has always made her proud of her Irish heritage.
Justin then spoke about the importance of giving back and joked that he was “at least 48% Irish” because he graduated from The University of Notre Dame, home of The Fighting Irish.
Co-Chair Alex Barry then introduced the Jameson Irish Spirit Award recipient, actor/comedian Joel McHale. Joel’s remarks were funny (as expected) but he also reflected on what being Irish means to him. He began his remarks by wondering why he was being honored and figured it was because “you can’t honor Conan O’Brien every year.” He then spoke about his wife and the fact that she lived in Belfast and they spent some time there together at a time when it was not a hotbed of tourist activity. He also remarked that organizations like The American Ireland Fund have helped to change the past narrative of Northern Ireland to something much more positive, today.
The acceptance speeches were followed by an exciting live auction, hosted by Pat Tully which included a “New York experience” package highlighted with a visit to Irish fashion designer Don O’Neill’s studio for champagne and a fitting of Don’s signature THEIA cocktail dress. Another great package was a week in a Nantucket home and use of a BMW 7 Series for the week.
Following the auction, the guests participated in a special paddle raise for the Irish Arts Center’s capital campaign. The Center is a grantee recipient of The American Ireland Fund and its new space will be a cultural highlight of NYC. The goal of $10,000 was met and exceeded and on that high note, The Dane Right Band took to the stage to kick the party into the next gear.
Joel, Justin and Lauran continued to mingle with the guests and graciously took pictures with the guests throughout the event.
At the end of the evening, the guests were invited to an after party hosted by Union Beer Distributors at Rattle and Hum West.
Thank you to presenting sponsors: Jameson Irish Whiskey, BMW, Blue Ocean Brokerage and Delta Air Lines. Also special thanks to décor sponsor B Floral and Bronwen Smith Union Beer Distributors and Andrew McLeod, Silicon Valley Bank and Alex Barry, The Macallan, Brugal Rum, Milagro Tequila and Deep Eddy Vodka
Photo Credits: James Higgins, Higgins Photography NYC.